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March 2011 Letters

TCP Talk

Letters and comments from our readers

John Fraser

Dutch Ovens on the Range

I was somewhat surprised when I read about the Lone Star Dutch Oven Society in the November 2010 issue. I had no idea there was such a group. Nowadays, if a Dutch oven is mentioned, most people would probably think of it as part of a cook stove made in Holland.

There are three Dutch ovens in the accompanying photo taken of an oil painting by artist Paul Kime. He used a magnifying glass to paint it from the original black and white photo, which was taken between 1912 and 1915 on a ranch between Guthrie and Spur. The cowboy seated on the ground, second from the left, wearing the white jacket and white 10-gallon hat is my dad, Charles Roy Sellars.

There isn’t any way to tell the contents of the Dutch ovens on the far left and middle, but Kime said the one on the right contains cornbread. It just goes to show how valuable Dutch ovens were to people in days gone by.

Milton Sellars, Karnes Electric Cooperative

Rural Veterinarians

Both my business and volunteer time crisscross the veterinary community, so I really enjoyed the rural veterinarian story (January 2011, “Emergency Call”). I will be sharing it with many Houston-area vets.

Also, for some reason, a postmortem exam on an animal is called a necropsy instead of an autopsy.

Janey Huey, San Bernard Electric Cooperative

Pleased with Peas

My wife and I enjoyed the article in the January 2011 issue by Clay Coppedge about peas (“Pass the Black-eyed Peas, Please”). It brings to mind two bits of family history:

Some of my wife’s folks were living in north Georgia during the Civil War. One woman whose husband was off at war was left home with children. She was nearly shot by Union forces while “stealing” some corn out of the field she planted—it was now Union corn. When the forces left, all the corn was gone, the milk cow killed, the hogs “galvanized” and the smokehouse and pantry were cleared of food. The only thing left was a patch of worthless cowpeas.

I also remember growing up in Mississippi where we would have black-eyed peas and souse for a New Year’s celebration. We still enjoy black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day.

Leo Sykes

Hallowed Halls

I enjoy my monthly Texas Co-op Power very much! I am so glad to see the great coverage for the Texas Halls of Fame (January 2011, “Lone Stars? Hardly”). However, you left out one of my favorites: the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame at Texas Woman’s University in Denton. I am a proud 2006 inductee to this prestigious group of Texas women. I am honored to “hang on the wall” with many awesome Texas women, especially Lady Bird Johnson (inducted as Claudia Taylor Johnson), Gov. Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Gussie Nell Davis, Barbara Bush, Kay Bailey Hutchison and many, many other remarkable women role models and leaders who have been great difference makers.

Shirley J. (Neeley) Richardson, Retired Galena Park ISD superintendent, 1995-2004, Former Texas Commissioner of Education, 2004-07, Groesbeck

I really enjoyed the article on the Texas Halls of Fame. Unfortunately, you left out the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame (TMHOF) at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The hall honors outstanding performers in Texas racing, from NASCAR to the IndyCar Series, pit crews to drag racers. All proceeds from the TMHOF solely benefits the Texas Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities.

Pat Wilson, Farmers Electric Cooperative

Preserving Dark Night Skies

Preserving West Texas’ pristine dark skies (“Starstruck,” December 2010) is an outgrowth of a larger nationwide movement to protect our cherished natural sanctuaries from urban encroachment and an ever mobile population who are filling up once-vacant and wild parts of the country.

I often like to take a step back with thinking about the light-at-night issue to put it into perspective. For centuries, mankind’s ability to control light was limited to fire and crude devices that could transport it from one locale to another. The advent of the lightbulb changed all of that by making light ubiquitous and cheap to control. In our quest to modernize, we felt that a light on every sign, street corner, building and tower was only a good thing. However, the power to turn night into day also comes with responsibilities, especially after we are learning that light at night leads to increased risks of cancer, obesity, irritability and higher levels of stress. The message that Bill Wren and the folks at McDonald Observatory are spreading is a simple one: Use light only when it is necessary, in moderation, and turn it off when you don’t need it.

Not only will you be helping Texas preserve its dark skies, but you might also improve your own health!

Benjamin Jones, Former coordinator, Texas Section of the International Dark-Sky Association

I thoroughly enjoyed the news of Big Bend, focusing on its absolutely endless beautiful sky. On our first trip to Big Bend in the 1990s, we had my husband’s homemade 20-inch telescope sandwiched between him and me in the front seat and resting between our two young sons in the back seat. I’ll share two exciting experiences:

1. The weather report on the radio includes “the ceiling in miles”—the clearer the skies, the higher you can see. My favorite report was: “Today we have a 100-mile ceiling.”

2. From our tent, we could see the Andromeda Galaxy with our naked eyes!

We had only a week to vacation there. I took off my wristwatch so I wouldn’t be tied to any civilized constraint to prevent me from experiencing every unfolding minute in a land that time forgot. I wish all human beings could experience Big Bend at least once.

Harriet Gumler, Farmers Electric Cooperative

My husband and I recently vacationed at Big Bend National Park and experienced

firsthand the wonders of the brilliant night sky with only one oversight. We began that particular evening on the patio of the Chisos Mountains Lodge restaurant by watching the sunset through the famous Window view. Once the sky darkened, we began walking slowly back to our room at Emory Peak Lodge, which is set back in the woods. As we gazed upward and walked farther from the center of Chisos Basin, we realized that we should have brought a flashlight. We could not see one step in front of us on that moonless night. Nonetheless, we enjoyed picking out constellations, the Milky Way and even a couple of satellites. Despite our lack of foresight, we made it safely back to our room with vivid memories of so many stars that they could not be counted.

Mary Beth Francis, Medina Electric Cooperative

I was delighted to read the article regarding the West Texas night skies. My sisters and I grew up listening to our parents push for light shielding and protecting the dark skies beginning some 60-plus years ago. They were once interviewed for being among those who saw Halley’s Comet for a second time when it last visited Earth in 1986.

I wonder how much energy could be saved by using softer lights or reducing all night lighting by one-third to one-half.

Stella Lundy, Wood County Electric Cooperative

The story about the West Texas stars reminded me of an incident back in the late ’40s or early ’50s. We had electricity but no indoor toilet, so every night before I went to bed, nature called me outside. I remember one night in particular: It was one of those cloudless, moonless nights with millions of stars. I glanced up and behold, a contrail was traveling slightly northeast to slightly southwest. You could tell it was a tremendous distance, and in a short time it had traversed the sky.

You talk about the hair standing up on the back of your neck. Wow.

William H. Howlin, Fannin County Electric Cooperative

Texas Math Lesson

I am new to the website and have enjoyed the entertainment it has provided. I especially enjoyed the “Scootch Over a Tad Bit” article (December 2010). It was pure-D Texan! It reminded me of an incident when I was about 7 years old:

My dad was in the middle of a project and needed sawhorses. The closest thing we had were metal, 5-gallon, square-looking, military gas cans. Dad hollered at me, “Son! Get me a couple of them gas cans outta the well house and bring ’em to me.” I was quick to oblige and hustled off to the well house, but finding only “two” cans, I then proceeded to hunt for more to fulfill my task and earn his respectful approval.

I could find no more, and I heard him holler again, “Are you gonna bring me them gas cans, or not?” “Yes sir,” I answered grabbing the cans and trotting to the construction site.

Puffing, I dropped the cans. “What took ya so long?” he asked. “I was looking for more cans, Pop,” I said. With disgust, he asked, “Don’t you know how many a couple is? Sheesh!” He shook his head. “And you’re in the second grade? A couple is TWO.”

I learned that simple “numbers” lesson that day and never forgot it! But after reading Richard Husby’s essay, I reckon Daddy forgot we wuz in Texas! Thanks for the story, and I understood EVERY smidgin of it!

Gaylon Stamps, Panhandle

A Frontier Journey

Like Elaine Robbins (author of “A Journey Through Texas, 1853,” December 2010 issue), I recently discovered this rich resource written by Frederick Olmsted about his 1850s journey through Texas. As my ancestors were migrating at the exact time period, it allowed me to visualize their experience and challenges on the road to settling the Texas frontier. This was quite a collective group entering Collin County from the Winchester, Kentucky, area, which included my Bush family as well as the Haggards, Elkins and Quissenberrys.

Steve Benton, CoServ Electric

Informative Articles

The December 2010 issue contained three wonderfully informative articles:

1. The “Big Cover-up” (about saving money by using electric blankets)

2. “Operating Principles” (a continuing series in Grayson-Collin Electric Cooperatives’ Texas Co-op Power local pages about the seven cooperative principles that guide electric co-ops)

3. “A Journey Through Texas, 1853”

Keep up the good reporting, and have a great new year!

Henry Kaplan, Grayson-Collin Electric Cooperative

Cover to Cover

I’m continually blown away at how great the content, presentation and color graphics are in Texas Co-op Power. I look forward every month to reading it from cover to cover. I pay for a number of high-gloss, popular monthly magazine subscriptions and enjoy yours as much, if not more. I always learn something. Keep up the good work!

Sue Tumbleson, Wood County Electric Cooperative

Out on a Limb for Members

Recently, Navasota Valley Electric Cooperatives technicians from the Mart office cut down a very tall, dead tree for us. The removal of the tree involved the electric lines. We have been members of Navasota Valley since 1975. This saved us in many ways, mainly a ton of heartache if this dead tree had fallen on neighbors, friends or family members or our precious grandchildren. I just wanted to let someone know of our heartfelt thanks.

Bess and Joseph Tucker, Navasota Valley Electric Cooperative

Another Tongue Twister

I was disappointed that Quitaque was not added to the list of names that are pronounced a little differently (“Texas Tongue Twisters,” November 2010). Care to guess the community pronunciation of where I was raised and still reside? It’s KITTY-quay. We are 100 miles southeast of Amarillo and 100 miles northeast of Lubbock.

Kay Calvert, Quitaque

Music Man

Charles Boisseau writes of the effect of band directors on band members (“Marching to Different Drummers,” October 2010). In Snyder, in the 1950s and early ’60s, we had a wonderful band director, Mel Montgomery. He was loved by all and instilled the love and dedication to music in his students. He went on to direct the band at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches. In his years of directing, he produced many professional musicians, and those who have a lifetime love of music. He was then, and is now, a great influence on many people.

Mary D. Williams, Christoval